“We’re in lean times and things are going to get less generous.”

Over the next few years, as farmers and agricultural observers reflect on how the 2013 farm bill ultimately played out, perhaps this quote by economist Jim Novak will best express it.

One thing is certain: This thinking is reflected in the Senate Ag Committee version of the farm bill, which passed by a 16 to 5 vote in committee, according to Novak, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System agricultural economist and Auburn University professor of agricultural economics.

The bill, which would reduce farm program spending over the next decade, will likely be presented to the full Senate within the next few weeks.

(For more, see: Direct payment death as farm bill heads to Senate)

Looming federal budget deficits and a desire on the part of many policymakers and trade advocates to remove U.S. farming from the criticism generated by Brazil and other developing countries over price supports are reflected throughout the Senate Ag Committee version of the farm bill, he says.

The U.S. safety net — at least as it is reflected in Committee version — is not being replaced insomuch as it is rewoven, Novak says.

Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) as well as direct and counter-cyclical payments would be repealed beginning with the 2013 crop year and replaced with an Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC), which would essentially function as a revenue protection program for covered commodities.

“ARC could be considered a shallow-loss revenue protection program covering individual commodities for a farm operation,” Novak says.

Based on data compiled by Carl Zulauf, an agricultural economics professor at Ohio State University, losses covered by ARC would be between 11 and 21 percent of a benchmark revenue, Novak says.